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Into the Forest


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About the Author

Jean Hegland is the author of The Life Within: Celebration of a Pregnancy. She lives with her husband and three children in northern California on fifty-five acres of second-growth forest. She is at work on her next novel, which explores the issues of motherhood.


This story of grit pits two sisters against the natural elements and dwindling supplies in the aftermath of a holocaust, whose origin is never fully explained. Nell, the narrator; her sister, Eva; and their parents live in seclusion near Redwood, California. Eva concentrates on ballet dancing, Nell on tracking through the forest, working on projects with her dad, and contemplating the essay she will write to apply to Harvard. Before long numerous signs of disintegration start to appear. Eva and Nell's mother dies of cancer, leaving the rest of the family to endure without her unflinching good humor and steadfastness. First novelist Hegland writes simply and directly, which allows her to convey strong emotions. She has the ability to make the giant redwood trees seem palpable, to allow readers to breathe in the smell of the rich humus on the floor of the forest. Highly recommended for public libraries.‘Lisa S. Nussbaum, Euclid P.L., Ohio

Praise for Jean Hegland's Into the Forest

"[A] beautifully written and often profoundly moving novel."
--San Francisco Chronicle "A work of extraordinary power, insight and lyricism, Into the Forest is both an urgent warning and a passionate celebration of life and love."
--Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade *"From the first page, the sense of crisis and the lucid, honest voice of the...narrator pull the reader in....A truly admirable addition to a genre defined by the very high standards of George Orwell's 1984."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review "Beautifully written."
--Kirkus Reviews "This beautifully written story captures the essential nature of the sister bond: the fierce struggle to be true to one's own self, only to learn that true strength comes from what they are able to share together."
--Carol Saline, co-author of Sisters "Jean Hegland's sense of character is firm, warm, and wise....[A] fine first novel."
--John Keeble, author of Yellowfish

Hegland's powerfully imagined first novel will make readers thankful for telephones and CD players while it underscores the vulnerability of lives dependent on technology. The tale is set in the near future: electricity has failed, mail delivery has stopped and looting and violence have destroyed civil order. In Northern California, 32 miles from the closest town, two orphaned teenage sisters ration a dwindling supply of tea bags and infested cornmeal. They remember their mother's warnings about the nearby forest, but as the crisis deepens, bears and wild pigs start to seem less dangerous than humans. From the first page, the sense of crisis and the lucid, honest voice of the 17-year-old narrator pull the reader in, and the fight for survival adds an urgent edge to her coming-of-age story. Flashbacks smartly create a portrait of the lost family: an iconoclastic father, artistic mother and two independent daughters. The plot draws readers along at the same time that the details and vivid writing encourage rereading. Eating a hot dog starts with "the pillowy give of the bun," and the winter rains are "great silver needles stitching the dull sky to the sodden earth." If sometimes the lyricism goes a little too far, this is still a truly admirable addition to a genre defined by the very high standards of George Orwell's 1984 and Russell Hoban's Ridley Walker. (July)

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